Portsmouth Dockyard employed thousands of workers across the city

The cover of the new dockyard book showing the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth entering the harbour after her construction in Portsmouth Dockyard
The cover of the new dockyard book showing the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth entering the harbour after her construction in Portsmouth Dockyard

Paul Brown’s The Portsmouth Dockyard Story, should be on every bookshelf in every home in the city.  At one time every family had someone working in the dockyard, or knew someone who did.

My own father began his work career there in 1936 and he had a brother-in-law also working in the ‘yard, and later a nephew.

The massive landmark 250-ton hammerhead crane erected in 1914. It could be seen from miles around.

The massive landmark 250-ton hammerhead crane erected in 1914. It could be seen from miles around.

The Royal Portsmouth Dockyard, as it once was, and now Portsmouth Naval Base, is but a shadow of its former self.

What was the main part of the establishment is now called the Historic Dockyard.

Makes you want to cringe, doesn’t it?

I’m glad to say Paul’s masterpiece of a book, above, brings back the great days of the dockyard – from the very beginnings to the present day. With a photograph or diagram on nearly every page, the book tells of everything to do with the ‘town within a town’.

Although several thousand men were employed in the dockyard, several hundred girls also did their bit

Although several thousand men were employed in the dockyard, several hundred girls also did their bit

There’s administration, discipline and security, pay, productivity and shipbuilding – including HMS Dreadnought which was built in a year and a day.

The Victorian navy features large, as it should do owing to the resounding changes that great period in British history brought to the world.

So too do the two world wars, and that includes the amount of girls that were taken on, pictured below. 

One of the marvels of the dockyard, which could be seen from miles around and was a feature when looking down from Portsdown Hill, was the 250-ton cantilever/hammerhead crane, pictured below. 

Leaving in a fleet of charabancs we see children on a day out after the Portsmouth street traders won 100.

Leaving in a fleet of charabancs we see children on a day out after the Portsmouth street traders won 100.

Built in 1914 it could lift the heaviest of ship construction materials. Why this structure could not have been saved like the one in Glasgow is beyond me.

This is a book for everyone.

It retails at £20 but if you purchase from New To You Books, High Street, Cosham, Alan is retailing it at £17.99, so a worthy Christmas present.

Ring him on (023) 9232 1089 to pick up your copy. 

Leaving in a fleet of charabancs we see children on a day out after the Portsmouth street traders won £100 and it was decided to take 1,000 children out for the day into the countryside.

Here we see the delighted children all looking thrilled to be taken out on a fleet of charabancs. 

I have just one question – can anyone tell me the location of the street at all please?

There appears to be a sliding door on the immediate left and an odd shaped chimney stack on the far left rooftop.

At the end of the street there appears to be a main shopping area.

Do you recognise it?